I visited a toddler group once when my first child was very young and not a soul talked to me during the whole session. I don’t think I have ever felt so excluded and alone, in such a busy room. Needless to say, I didn’t go back to that particular group. If you have ever visited a new place, you will know how important it is that you feel welcomed. A simple smile can mean so much. As a young teacher I had a poem on my wall that began, ‘Smiling is infectious you can catch it like the flu, when someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too!’ and it’s true!
We want our settings to be welcoming places. Places where children want to be. Places where parents are happy for their children to be. Places that make you smile.
When we think about our early years environment, we need to consider these aspects:
- Is it welcoming and inviting?
- Are children and families greeted at the door with a smile?
- Does it reflect the children’s interests, fascinations and diverse backgrounds?
- Is it meaningful to adults and children?
- Do displays and posters aid the welcoming atmosphere?
- Are the different languages represented by our families evident around the setting?
- Do children have access to opportunities inside and outside?
- Is it clear where children can go and what they can do?
- Are there hands-on activities available that cover all areas of learning and development?
- Is it safe, clean and tidy?
- Are there clearly defined areas?
- Are resources accessible to promote independence?
- Are resources maintained and replenished?
- Am I proud of the environment?
- Do children feel like they belong in our setting?
- Would I want to play here?
So let’s welcome children and families into our settings and hope that all who came as guests leave as friends, with a smile on their faces.
About the author
Tamsin Grimmer is an experienced early years consultant and trainer and parent who is passionate about young children’s learning and development. She believes that all children deserve practitioners who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective and committed to improving on their current best. Tamsin particularly enjoys planning and delivering training and supporting early years practitioners and teachers to improve outcomes for young children.